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Author Topic: Church History  (Read 3152 times)
Demi Precentor

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我終於知道曲終人散的寂寞 只有傷心人才有

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« on: December 01, 2006, 08:07:10 AM »

The 3 major factions of Christianity are the Roman Catholics, Eastern / Greek Orthodoxy, and the Protestants.

Some can trace the Eastern Orthodoxy - Roman Catholic Schism to the time when Caesar Constantine established his capital in the Byzantium city of Constantinople.

So within the Roman Catholic * (i.e. the Universal Roman) church there was a Greek Church, with its head in Constantinople, and a Latin Church with its head in Rome. The Bishop of Rome (which every Pope traces their authority all the way to the Apostle Peter) also laid claim to be the only Bishop of the Roman Empire, and only the Bishop of Rome can anoint the new Roman Emperor.

After the collapse of the Western Roman Empire, any King that claims sovereignty over Rome, or as protector of Christendom, is anointed as Roman Emperor. Of course, it makes it worse that because there remains a portion of the Eastern Roman Empire (Later the Byzantine Empire) which claimed true succession as Roman Emperors but not recognised by the Bishops of Rome. It further becomes a necessity for all Roman Catholic lords to be anointed by the Pope to legalise his right to rule. A King that isn't anointed by the Pope would be considered unfit to rule because he has no mandate from God.

The Great Schism in 1054 separated the 2 factions of the Roman Catholic church. But that was only a formality.

* Catholic simple means Universal.

In 1205, a group of misguided Crusaders, fooled by and deeply in debt to the Doge of Venice, invaded Constantinople. Because Pope Innocent III originally blessed this crusade to 'recover the Holy Land' it reinforced the belief that the Latins (Roman Church) were out to destroy the Greek Church. The originally theocratic and racial Schism now became irreconcilable.

As to how the Protestant came about, everyone who is a protestant would have heard of Martin Luther.  

What would be interesting to know is that Martin Luther is very much anti-Jewish in his later years. But of course, anti-Semitism has permeated in the Christian world for many years since the Council of Nicaea which put together the Bible in the 4th Century. Rabble-rousing priests has reinforced the opinion of Christians that the Jews are the murders of the LORD Jesus Christ. Historians have repeatedly pointed out that the Bible seems to let Pilate off lightly in the 4 Gospels, so as to distant the Roman authorities from being implicated in the LORD's murder.

It is also interesting to note that because the Pope wouldn't anoint one of the King Henry VII , the English King took all his subjects out of the Catholic Church and repudiation of papal authority of Rome. It in effect brings into being the Anglican Church, with its head the Archbishop of Canterbury. Smiley

(The above version is based on my own murky understanding of Church history. You can read up more on such things on Wikipedia or do a search on Google. Where I am wrong, please provide the article to me and I'll glady go and do my own read up on it.)

我終於知道曲終人散的寂寞 只有傷心人才有...
Demi Precentor

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我終於知道曲終人散的寂寞 只有傷心人才有

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« Reply #1 on: December 18, 2006, 06:43:33 PM »


How the gospel story grew in the telling
TV documentary focuses on depictions of Jesus that didn't make the cut

By Alan Boyle
Science editor
Updated: 10:38 p.m. ET Dec. 15, 2006

For Christians, 'tis the season for shepherds and kings, animals and angels to gather together around the manger - at least in countless Nativity scenes around the world. But it takes more than any one of the four Gospels to assemble that precise tableau: The three kings (actually, astrologers) come from Matthew, while the shepherds come from Luke.

Did we say four Gospels? Actually, in the early centuries of the Christian church, there were quite a few more than Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. For example, references to the ox and the donkey surrounding the infant Jesus come not from the four accepted gospels, but from an also-ran scripture called the Gospel of Pseudo-Matthew.

Still other apocryphal texts portray the child Jesus as a divine "Dennis the Menace" - smarting off to his neighbors, giving his playmates a swift kick, even striking an offending youngster dead and then grudgingly bringing him back to life. A lot of these ancient stories have come to be considered heretical. Nevertheless, they get a fresh airing in "The Secret Lives of Jesus," a documentary premiering Sunday on the National Geographic Channel.

The show, part of a TV triple-header timed to coincide with the buildup to Christmas, illustrates that the gospel story has been added to, fine-tuned and pruned through the centuries.

For some scriptural scholars, even the texts that have been excluded from the Christian canon have lessons to teach: "It's important for us to read all these texts, not just the texts that have been deemed orthodox," said Marvin Meyer, a religious-studies professor at Chapman University who has written extensively about the lesser-known texts.

For others, however, the apocryphal scriptures reveal more about the state of the Christian church in the centuries after its founding than about its true origins. "I would not say that we learn anything new about the historical Jesus or the birth of Jesus," said Ben Witherington, a professor of New Testament interpretation at the Asbury Theological Seminary.

Both Meyer and Witherington get their say in "The Secret Lives of Jesus" - and since this is "the season," after all, Witherington also appears in yet another holiday history lesson this weekend, "The Mystery of Christmas" on CBS' "48 Hours." In fact, this is prime time for reviewing the Nativity and the historical Jesus, on TV as well as in film ("The Nativity Story") and in the newsmagazines (Newsweek as well as U.S. News & World Report).

This season, there's an extra seasoning of controversy, sparked by the Hollywood-inspired fuss over "The Da Vinci Code" as well as this year's unveiling of the Gospel of Judas, a second-century retelling of Christ's Passion from a traditional villain's point of view. The National Geographic Channel will rebroadcast its "Gospel of Judas" documentary on Monday, and on Tuesday it will air "Secrets of Jerusalem's Holiest Sites," a new look at the Holy City's role in Judaism, Christianity and Islam.

The controversial theme of the Gospel of Judas - that Jesus actually asked Judas Iscariot to betray him as part of the grand plan for salvation ?almost pales in comparison with some of the other stories brought to life in the "Secret Lives":

  • The Infancy Gospel of Thomas tells of a Jesus who turns clay sparrows into real birds ... who argues with his parents ... who works magic on a miscut length of wood to get his father out of a jam ... who causes one playmate to wither up and die, but raises another from the dead.
  • Mary Magdalene is identified as Jesus' closest disciple in the Gnostic gospels of Philip and Mary, sparking speculation over the centuries (including in "The Da Vinci Code") that they were husband and wife.
  • The Apocalypse of Peter quotes the divine Jesus as saying that he didn't really die on the cross, but that only his "fleshly part" experienced the Passion. Other Gnostic texts claim that Jesus actually traded places with Simon the Cyrene - an innocent bystander who is depicted in the canonical gospels as helping Jesus carry the cross.
  • Much more recently, a book published by Russian doctor-explorer Nikolas Notovitch in 1894 purports to be the account of Jesus' youthful years in the Himalayas, learning at the feet of Buddhist and Hindu holy men. Notovitch said the tale came from an ancient Tibetan document titled "The Life of Issa."

Most of these apocryphal stories aren't taken seriously by the scholars. "None of them come from before the latter part of the second century," Witherington said. "They're the ancient equivalent of Harlequin romance novels."

But they make for a good story in "Secret Lives of Jesus."

"It's like one-stop shopping for the apocryphal Jesus," Witherington joked. "But it really doesn't tell us about history."

The apocryphal texts reveal far more about the politics of the early church than about the historical Jesus, Witherington said. "If you're after some 'insider trading' information about Jesus, you are not going to get it from this. ... If your interest is church history in the second, third and fourth century, these are very interesting documents," he said.

Even though they're not part of the orthodox New Testament, some bits of the rejected tales do turn up in Christian lore. For example, the back story about Mary - including the saga of her own birth without sin, or "immaculate conception" - is found most clearly in the Protoevangelium of James. And although the elements of the Hail Mary prayer can be found in different passages from Luke, the best formulation comes from the aforementioned Gospel of Pseudo-Matthew.

Other texts that have turned up just in the past few decades - such as the Nag Hammadi library, found in Egypt in 1945 - could shed new light on issues such as the role of women in the early church, and Jesus' role as teacher as well as savior, according to some scholars.

"There are texts like the Gospel of Thomas, for instance," Meyer said. "Here is a collection of sayings of Jesus, some of which may go back very close to the historical Jesus. This may be a text of great significance that may revolutionize the way that we look at Jesus as a Jewish teacher."

More to come
There could be more to come: Just last year, Polish archaeologists found a 1,300-year-old set of Coptic texts in Egypt that is still being deciphered. "My best guess is that there are more texts in the sands of Egypt and the Middle East and elsewhere that will be discovered," Meyer said.

So should any of this affect how Christians view the gospel story? For Witherington, the four evangelists provide all that believers need to know. "Matthew, Mark, Luke and John - stick with those and you can't go wrong," he said.

Meyer, however, says that seeing the wider spectrum of scriptures enhances an appreciation of Christian faith.

"Different Christians - sincere, thoughtful, believing Christians - had very different ideas in the early church about who Jesus was and what it means to follow him," he said. "Even as to the present day, there is the same kind of diversity in the church and beyond the church."

More than history
And sometimes the gospel story isn't just about the historical details. Meyer said he keeps that in mind as he makes his annual rounds of Christmas activities.

"I think that the stories that that we have of the Nativity in Matthew and Luke are beautiful stories," he said. "Much more important than whatever history there might be to those stories - and frankly, I think there's very little that is actually historical about the birth of Jesus - the story that is told in each of those two accounts is profoundly and deeply moving. It's better than just history.

"It has to do with hope for the future. It has to do with peace on Earth. It has to do with seeing that from the humblest of beginnings, at the time of Jesus and in our own day, great things can emerge. For Jesus and for all of us, it provides a sense of hope. And I find that to be something that is always thrilling."

© 2006 MSNBC Interactive
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